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Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends

Israeli forces are searching for a soldier believed captured, as a 72-hour truce with Hamas in Gaza collapsed just hours after it had begun.

The soldier, named as Hadar Goldin, 23, disappeared when Israeli forces trying to destroy a suspected militant tunnel were attacked, Israel’s military said.

Two soldiers died in the firefight in southern Gaza Strip at 06:30 GMT.

The Gaza health ministry said dozens were killed by Israeli shelling in the area shortly after the incident.

Hadar GoldinThe Israeli army says Lt Goldin went missing in an attack in southern Gaza on Friday morning

In 2006 Palestinian militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him for five years.

He was released in November 2011 in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas has not confirmed or denied capturing a soldier.

Lt Goldin’s father Simha said in a statement that the family was “confident that Israel will do everything to bring Hadar back home”.

Some 1,460 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the latest conflict and 63 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The ceasefire had been brokered by the US and UN to give civilians a reprieve from the violence, and had been seen as an unforeseen breakthrough after days of diplomatic deadlock.

The White House blamed Hamas for the ceasefire’s breakdown, describing the militant group’s attack on the Israeli soldiers as “barbaric”.

“This is an outrageous action and we look to the rest of the world to join us in condemning it,” Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told MSNBC.

Also on Friday, Palestinian and Israeli delegations arrived in Cairo, Egypt, with the hope of negotiating a longer-term cessation of hostilities, but Egyptian officials said the talks had now been postponed.

People recover belongings from damaged houses in Gaza - 1 AugustGazans are trying to salvage their belongings

Analysis: Martin Patience, BBC News, Gaza

The clashes in Rafah came just four hours into what was meant be a 72-hour ceasefire, reinforcing just how difficult it is to get truces to last beyond a very short time. Both sides will have expected such violations.

While it held, much of Gaza was relatively quiet compared to the violence in recent weeks. The streets were slowly returning back to life as shops began to reopen. People had been taking the opportunity to stock up on much-needed supplies.

A steady stream of cars headed towards evacuated neighbourhoods close to the Israeli border. People here want to see if their houses are still standing and to try to salvage what’s left of their belongings.


Analysis: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Jerusalem

The news that an Israeli soldier appears to have been captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza has caused deep concern in Israel.

Military service is compulsory for most people and the sense of solidarity and sympathy with the armed forces is strong; the case of Gilad Shalit was a national trauma.

The government’s readiness to make deals like the one that was struck in Sgt Shalit’s case is both a strength and a weakness. It reassures Israeli soldiers and their families that the country will do what it can to secure their release.

But critics both at home and abroad say the policy makes Israel vulnerable to future attacks. Its enemies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, know that Israel is prepared to pay a very high price for the freedom of its citizens.


During the morning life appeared to be returning to some kind of normality in Gaza, with many Palestinians heading towards heavily shelled areas to see if their homes were still intact.

But the Gaza health ministry reported that at least 35 Palestinians were killed and up to 100 injured in an Israeli attack near the southern town of Rafah after the ceasefire began.

Palestinian woman reacts at sight of damaged house in Beit Hanoun - 1 AugustMany Palestinians used the opportunity of the ceasefire to see if their homes were damaged

A senior Israeli official said Hamas had breached the ceasefire and Israel’s response would be “crushing”.

Earlier, Israeli foreign affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor told the BBC that Israeli forces had retaliated after being attacked in what seemed like a planned move by Hamas.

“There was a full-scale attack on an Israeli unit and this unit had to respond,” he said.

“After it responded, Hamas started firing rockets on Israeli territory again and therefore the fighting resumed all along the line.

But Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun said: “The Israelis are the ones who breached the ceasefire, and the Palestinian resistance acted in a way that ensures its right of self-defence.”

Another Hamas official said the announcement of the soldier’s capture was “a justification for Israel retreating from the truth and a cover-up for massacres”.

Palestinian media reported that Hamas had called for a “day of anger” across the West Bank.


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